Thanks to the Tibetan Development Assistance Trust for providing 25,000 RMB. This, plus the local contribution of 5,160 RMB, created a project of 30,360 RMB that benefited 1,656 local Tibetans (207 households) through a solar cooker project.
In the past, in Duoxi, a beneficiary village, people spent 5 days a week collecting yak dung and bushes. They burned a bundle of bushes and a half-bag of yak dung (1 plastic bag of yak dung weighs ~50kg). Currently, they only spend 1 to 2 days a week on collecting fuel. They burn 50% less yak dung in winter now, thanks to the solar cooker.
People boil water with solar cookers and cook noodles, potatoes, and bread. The solar cooker has reduced fuel in recipient households by about 50%. Families who own no livestock now sell the straw they burned before having the solar cooker to families with livestock.
The solar cooker project is one reason why 60 out of 80 women from Duoxi Village now leave the village to earn cash income, instead of staying at home to collect fuel. They earn 45 RMB to 50 RMB per person per day doing unskilled work.
Since implementation of this project, enrollment of female students has increased. Approximately 84 additional female students attended Jinyuan Township Center School from all villages in Jinyuan.
During the 2009 national entrance exam for universities, students from the two project areas earned excellent scores and a greater number of students were accepted by different universities with different majors. Of the 39 senior middle school students accepted by universities, 18 were from Tiajia (8 girls, 10 boys) and 21 were from Jinyuan (16 boys, 5 girls). This is the first time this many students were accepted by different universities from these two areas in Hualong, which has encouraged local villagers who are now more likely to send their children, especially girls, to school.
We were told when we visited local schools that 99% of school-aged girls in these two Tibetan areas are now attending schools. While it is not possible to assign all of the reason for this to solar cookers, the cookers did contribute. Girls no longer needed to stay at home to collect fuel and extra cash income earned could help finance college education.
Queji (b. 1968), a native of Tajia Tibetan Village said, "My family is one of the poorest families in my village. We used to collect bushes from the forest behind my village, but several years ago, the local government stopped us from collecting bushes there. Afterward, we had a hard time finding fuel and we started collect yak dung on the mountains. There isn't much yak dung and we had to go a long way, searching for it. Rich families buy coal for fuel in winter but my family can't afford coal for fuel. Winter is very cold here and my home is cold without a fire. I put second-hand plastic sheets around the front of my house, trying to make it warmer. I now use my new solar cooker in summer and hot days can save my yak dung and straws which supposed to burn in summer and use it in cold winter."